The Relevance of Local Search and the Best Practices
- Nov 18, 2015
- Supriyo Das
Predicting the future of local search isn’t easy. It has been on the marketing radar for some times, but then went off the grid. The main bottlenecks were inability to retain the visitors, not putting the focus on mobile SEO, lack of relevant backlinks, etc.
Is local search still relevant? Does it affect the purchasing decisions of consumers? If it does, then in which ways? In this article, I’ll search for the answers.
Understanding local search
Many independent surveys done in the past estimated the impact of several factors on local search. Below is a chart that shows how such factors affected local search from 2008 to 2014:
Personalization has never played a key role. The impact of reviews has always been marginal, and it almost reached to the bottom in 2014. These two observations alone tell us local search has evolved over time. Here’s a beautiful infographic explaining how. Earlier, business owners used to write phony reviews to rank their sites. Such unsolicited practices resulted in users losing faith in online reviews.
Backlink over website
In the year 2012, the backlinks were more important than websites. This indicates some sites were not among the top rated ones, but they managed to grab themselves backlinks from high-quality and user-frequented review sites. This might come as a shocker but the chart shows it’s possible.
It’s 2015, but backlinks are as relevant for local search as they were in the past, only quality has replaced quantity. Earlier, links used to be purchased in bulk but now, one or two highly contextual links from reputed sources are all that a local business site needs. Not to forget, the links should be natural.
If your local business gets a mention in the Washington Post or in the New York Times, then you can wrap up link building as this one link would be equal to hundred other not-so-great type links.
Marketers and local business owners spend years and pour millions only to pad out a solid presence on social platforms. But if the survey findings in the chart are to believe, the importance of building a social presence can very well be doubted.
The truth is social signals may not be genuine, and the search engine giant knows that. I think a local business should rely on social media for direct sales, and not so much for brand building. Common sense tells the same thing. Imagine you have a local business and you take on robust social media initiatives to promote it.
You may wind up reaching consumers, who live far away from where your business is located, meaning they’ll never buy from you.
Google introduced this update more than a year ago and explained how the local search algorithms would behave. Interestingly, the takeaways for local businesses are the same as the chart above lays out.
The algos pinpoint a searcher. Not only his IP address but ample other geolocation details obtained from the satellite such as the zip code, area and even street address help Google to identify the truest location of a searcher.
If you have money to spend, I suggest you print pamphlets and distribute them among the people in your locality, give them discounts on purchases, and urge them to rate your business high on local directories such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places and similar networks.
Remember, after the Pigeon update, Google is specifying the selection process, and the local business directories are its eyes and ears. So stay on top on them.
Keywords and citation
David Mihm conducted a survey and published a report. According to that report, citation and keywords are the topmost influencing factors in local SEO. Combinedly, they account for almost 34% of total factors that create an impact on local search.
The takeaways that we can retrieve from this is the name, address and phone number of a business including the local keywords should be highlighted. When they are highlighted on third-party sites, citations for the original site generate.
Optimize for handheld platform
I am sure you have already been doing it. Continue optimizing your site for the mobile platform but with some new strategies in mind. Optimize your presence keeping real-time geolocation tracking in mind.
Apps for real-time geolocation tracking are currently being developed using Database as a Service (DaaS) solutions and the Google Map API. Your business and its product catalog should be in the databases of top providers, so users from your nearest locations visit your store.
Local search is alive and kicking. As a matter of fact, there’s are algorithms in place monitoring it. If your business operates on a local basis, you can’t ignore its importance; follow the practices discussed here in this article to get the best out of it.
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